Q: We're trying to sell our house, and it doesn't seem like our real estate agent, who is also the owner of the real estate company, is doing much to facilitate the process. He said he'd do lots of things to help us sell the house, but we didn't get any of those promises in writing. We signed a six-month listing contract. Is it possible to get out of this?

A:You may have to ride this one out. Usually, in a case like this you can appeal to the owner of the company. But since the owner is also the one not getting the job done, you might have trouble.

Try to schedule a face-to-face, sit-down meeting with this guy. Confront him about the broken promises he's made to you, and tell him he should do the right thing and let you out of the contract.

Then, if he's not willing to do the right thing let him know that you'll just flat out pull the house off the market.

And from this point on, get everything that happens in writing!

Kid calls for money

Q: I have three stepchildren, the oldest of whom is in the Army and stationed in Japan. He's also married and has a little baby. But the only time we hear from them is when they want money. We don't mind helping out once in a while, but his wife just seems lazy. She stays at home all the time, and doesn't help bring in any money. What can we do to fix all this?

A: When your relationship with someone is based on you giving them money, then you don't have a relationship. But there may be other reasons they aren't calling very much.

If you say things about his wife being lazy when you do talk, it probably makes them both angry. If this is the case, they may call only when they're desperate enough to put up with your comments about her. Plus, taking care of a baby is one of the hardest full-time jobs around. The value or importance of what someone does isn't always reflected in a paycheck.

But I don't think you should be giving them money all the time either. You could try gently giving advice instead. Maybe they need to be on a budget, or perhaps they should be spending less.

Regardless, I'm always against perpetuating relationships that are based on handing out money.

Name on account

Q: My in-laws had a small business, and my husband's name was on their checking account so he could sign checks or pay bills if they weren't in. Now, they're about to declare bankruptcy. Will his name being on that checking account affect us in any way?

A: You guys need to go to the bank, and get his name off that account now!

If his name is on the checks, he's probably one of the owners of the account. And if this is the case, he could be liable for overdrafts or anything else associated with it.

You'll also want to look into whether or not they've used that account to pay payroll taxes. There's a chance that the federal government might try to come after the account those payroll taxes were written on.

But if the payroll taxes are current and he gets his name off the account, I don't think you guys will have any liability. Check with an attorney to be sure, though.

For more financial advice and a special offer to readers, visit www.davesays.org or call (888)-22-PEACE.

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